Friday, November 16, 2012

Basic Pet Bird Care Tips

Today is my first installment of "Exotic Friday". By special request, I've decided to share some very basic pet bird care tips for new bird owners. If anyone out there would like to know more about a specific topic, just shoot me an email or message and I will see what I can do.

Would you believe that the majority of health problems in birds are due to poor husbandry? Husbandry is the basic care provided to animals, such as diet and living conditions. If you've ever considered owning a bird as a pet, you may want to take a look at some of these very basic tips on caring for them. Following these bird care tips can help your pet bird live a long and healthy life.

Pineapple Green Cheek Conure


Bird Seed Mix
The number one reason for poor health in pet birds is usually related to poor diet. What should you feed your pet bird? Pellets!

Yes, the package of seed mix has some pellets in it and says it's a nutritionally complete diet. Truth is your bird probably isn't going to willingly eat the pellets in the mix. Seeds are very high in fat and deficient in many vitamins and minerals. If you could choose between a cupcake or a salad, you'd probably choose the cupcake.

The label on a seed mix may say it is "fortified" with vitamins and minerals. Consider this: if the seeds are sprayed with the vitamins and minerals your bird needs, how is your bird going to ingest them? They don't eat the hulls of the seeds.

There are some species of birds who are thought to require some seeds in their diet, like cockatiels. I would recommend one or two Laffeber's Nutri-berries as a treat once a day. Of course, there are many healthy fruits and vegetables you can and should offer your pet bird as well. And don't forget to always provide them with fresh drinking water.

Cage, Substrate, & Toys

Sun Conure
It's important to choose a bird cage that is big enough for your feathery friend. Allowing time outside the cage for more exercise is important as well. Just remember that you must supervise your bird at all times when they are playing outside of the cage.

There are many substrate products on the market for birds today. Honestly, the best substrate is good old kitchen paper towels. Newspaper is fine also. This allows you to monitor your pet bird for normal poops more easily.

Giving your pet bird good perches is also important. Try adding a variety of textures when choosing purchases. A rope perch can provide a soft place for your bird to put their feet on. 

Also, be sure to provide your bird with plenty of good foraging toys. It's important to keep them busy during the day. In the wild, birds forage all day. Some birds can start to pluck their own feathers out if they become bored, so be sure to provide them with plenty of entertainment.

Band Removal & Microchipping

Many pet birds come with a small metal band around one of their ankles. I highly suggest taking your pet bird to have it removed by a veterinarian. It's not necessary for them to have it. Breeders use these to identify their own birds in their aviaries. The band can easily get caught onto a number of things causing injury to the bird.

Microchip your bird! Microchipping isn't just for cats and dogs. Pet birds can also get a microchip. It may be more popular in larger parrots since a microchip needle isn't all that small. The microchip is placed in the bird's breast muscle.

Dangerous Household Items & Toxic Substances

Birds have an extremely sensitive respiratory system. There are many everyday household items that can pose a threat to your pet bird's health. Teflon and non-stick cookware, candles, cigarette smoke, and harsh cleaners like bleach all create toxic fumes for a bird. If you're going to take on the task of keeping a bird as a pet, try to eliminate these items from your house if at all possible. Also, lead poisoning is a very serious and most often fatal condition in birds.

There are many toxic foods and plants that birds should not eat. There are a LOT more items I could add to the list, but here are some of the most common:

  • Alcohol
  • Garlic (in large amounts)
  • Hydrangea
  • Apricot seeds
  • Lantana
  • Avocado
  • Marijuana
  • Morning Glory
  • Begonia
  • Onions (in large amounts)
  • Caladium
  • Chocolate
  • Peanuts (in large amounts)
  • Apple seeds
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomato Leaves
  • Salt
  • Caffeine

Remember that if you are considering adding a feathery friend to your family that adoption is an option! There are many pet birds out there looking for their forever homes. Also note that birds should visit a veterinarian at least annually for a check-up.


  1. Hi, my name is Beth and in early December I will be collecting a baby girl western galah. I have never had one before so anything you could tell me would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Beth, thanks for reading. Those are lovely birds. Cockatoos in general get attached to their people and can be very loving. Sometimes even believing they are mates with their person. Be prepared to devote a lot of hours a day to her, preferably about 8 hrs a day. Cockatoos are notorious for feather plucking in captivity. While feather plucking is caused by a number of reasons, some cockatoos do it when they are stressed or left alone for too long.

  2. The lovebirds are so cute! Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. Those birds are very beautiful! And the lovebirds look like they are blushing :) I am glad you are helping people learn to take care of these nice animals properly!

  4. Great post! I myself have a cockatiel named Charlie and WOW! I read about cockatiels for about half a year before getting one! Lots of information out there...... :D

    ~Animal Mommy~

    P.S. Came here through Animal Tales. :D

  5. Thanks for visiting! Cockatiels are such fun little birds. And yes, there is tons of info out there lol. This is just the information I would tell a first time bird owner who came into the clinic for an appointment basicly.

  6. Nice run down Ann! I have 4 parrots and they enjoy a diet of pellets, vegetable mash(includes grains and fruits) and seed. I cook more for them then me!

    1. Thanks for reading Dawn. I could probably write a novel on diet alone lol. Sounds like your birds get to eat like royalty!


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